Mayfield has always noticed how Fincher only wants to work with “vital and important” people that are intent on solving problems on his set. “We don’t work for David, we work with David. We’re there to support the vision and, with our departments, move forward. Even on the hard days.” Ultimately, though, Fincher is fully aware that the “buck stops with him”, says Cronenweth, and he “takes ownership of the good, bad, wrong, or right of all of his movies.”
Luckily for Fincher, most of his output has been adored by audiences and critics alike. Knapp believes his impact stretches far beyond the mere craftsmanship and beauty of his visuals or the smart and thought-provoking subtext that’s layered throughout his work. For him, Fincher is “the therapist to American society”, a mantle he has taken from his great inspiration Alfred Hitchcock, since “he is keenly aware of the audience and is able to communicate with them and sell his work”.
Meanwhile what Mayfield finds most inspiring about Fincher, above and beyond the fact that his films mean his name is “already etched in cinematic history as one of the great directors ever”, is his simple regard and respect for getting to fulfil his life-long ambition to be a filmmaker.
“He takes this very seriously. This is a big responsibility. People give you a lot of money to make a movie. David does not take that for granted. That’s another thing with Dave, there’s no excuse not to do things to the very best of your ability. Because it’s a gift that we get to do what we do.”
Mank is released on Netflix on 4 December.
Love film and TV? Join BBC Culture Film and TV Club on Facebook, a community for cinephiles all over the world.
If you would like to comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Culture, head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter.
And if you liked this story, sign up for the weekly bbc.com features newsletter, called The Essential List. A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Culture, Worklife and Travel, delivered to your inbox every Friday.